Well, here we are, Dancing with the Starsfans. Welcome to the 10th anniversary/20th season kickoff of ABC's glittery, biannual extravaganza.
"We made it!" enthuses co-host Erin Andrews, who has been with the show for one year.
This season, the pairs are competing for a new and improved "Golden Mirrorball," and the show gets underway with a Broadway-show-meets-seedy-nightclub routine that's a bit of a head-scratcher.
Let's get to the dances!
Willow Shields and Mark Ballas (cha cha)
The dance: Apparently the mid-teens aren't awkward for everybody. The show's youngest contestant, Hunger Games alum Shields, demonstrates a poise and composure that go way beyond her 14 years. The cha cha seems a little tentative, which is to be expected from the first dance of the season. But the judges' comments are nicer than the scores they give to her.
What the judges say: Len compares Willow to Alka-Seltzer (in a good way), but says she could straighten her legs more. Julianne agrees but likes her sass. Bruno quips that the odds are in Willow's favor (heh). Carrie Ann says the dance was simultaneously age-appropriate and sophisticated.
Score: 25 (out of 40)
Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson (cha cha)
The dance: Honestly I'm too distracted by Robert's creepy intro package to pay much attention to the dance. Anyone else think he came off like a cartoonish Bond villain? Anyway, on the dance floor, when he's not ogling Kym's rear, he's a bit stiff. And the piles of money being thrown around just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.
What the judges say: Julianne is completely blown away
by Herjavec's car but says Robert could work on his musicality. Bruno, fanning himself with money, also calls Robert a "pleasant surprise" and likens him to Flipper (the dolphin). Carrie Ann and Len are equally shocked by Robert's pluck - though Len prepares him for low scores.
Riker Lynch and Allison Holker (jive)
The dance: Is this a jive or a slam dance? Riker the rocker certainly has energy going for him, but needs to work on his finesse, as poor Allison gets crashed into at least twice in the opening minute. Riker will probably be able to skate by on the heartthrob vote for at least a few weeks, but needs to show a little grace as well.
What the judges say: Bruno jumps on the table. Carrie Ann notes that it wasn't graceful, but still got her juices flowing. Len loves the energy too, but says he needs to refine his technique for next week's foxtrot. Julianne thinks Riker and Allison make the perfect pairing, and compliments Allison's choreography.
Charlotte McKinney and Keo Motsepe (jive)
The dance: After her infamous Super Bowl commercial, McKinney says she did Dancing to show America that she's more than just boobs - and then proceeds to make literally her entire intro packages about her frontal assets. So that's an interesting choice. As for the dance, Keo's clearly doing the heavy lifting, but Charlotte gives good face and has plenty of rhythm, so that gets her through.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says Charlotte effed up the intro, but is still fun to watch. (I'm guessing this rationale is exactly how Charlotte has gotten where she is at this point in life.) Len basically agrees, while Julianne notes the difficulty of the jive, especially for someone with long legs like Charlotte. Bruno says she covered her mistakes well.
Patti LaBelle and Artem Chigvintsev (foxtrot)
The dance: St. Patti's Day comes early to Dancing with the Stars. The music legend gives a diva-worthy performance to her song "Lady Marmalade," complete with her name spelled out in gold pillars behind her. Unfortunately, she's a little slow-moving around the ballroom, and I'm already concerned about her energy level when she gets to the jive and some of the faster dances.
What the judges say: Len praises Patti's "ease," while Julianne calls her a "gorgeous, graceful goddess." Bruno loves Patti's elegance, and Carrie Ann loves that Artem kept it simple.
Chris Soules and Witney Carson (jive)
The dance: Good for Chris Soules, who has found a way to get paid to take dance lessons before his wedding. The former Bachelor contestant proves that he's more than just a pretty face and more than holds his own with last season's champ, Witney (who, incidentally, has an adorable habit of singing along to the lyrics of the song she's dancing to).
What the judges say: Julianne is mostly delighted (they danced to "Footloose," after all) but feels like Chris' footwork could have been better. Bruno is similarly charmed, and Carrie Ann tells Chris he has "charisma out the ying-yang," but cautions him to watch his "T-Rex arms." Len says Chris is like a truck that needs polishing.
Michael Sam and Peta Murgatroyd (cha cha)
The dance: His smile looks a little plastered on, but otherwise Michael is pretty good! His foot placement could use a little work, but from the neck to the ankles he's got it going on. He's also a perfect match for Peta, putting his own groovy, modern spin on these more regimented routines.
What the judges say: Bruno says Michael's "butt is a work of art," but he needs to work on his foot placement. Julianne says his footwork was "sloppy" (and gets booed), but adds that Michael is infectious. Len goes a step further and calls the footwork "atrocious."
Nastia Liukin and Derek Hough (foxtrot)
The dance: Nastia's athleticism will clearly put her at a distinct advantage in the competition. Paired with Derek's always-stellar choreography it's pretty safe to say that these guys are among the Season 20 frontrunners at this point. Their New York-themed routine is a little snoozy, but the technique is good.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann's going to take off points for a lift. Len also nitpicks a staccato. Julianne calls their first dance "explosive," but advises Nastia to work on her back flexibility. And Bruno says "there is nothing nasty about Nastia." Ha.
Redfoo and Emma Slater (cha cha)
The dance: Redfoo may be sexy (and he knows it) on the stage, but there's nothing smooth about this routine, except when he's doing the most basic of hip shakes. The LMFAO singer looks totally out of his element during the more technical parts of the routine, and puts more of his energy into lip-syncing the words than he does into any of the steps.
What the judges say: Len says the routine was a little wild, but fun. Julianne wanted more jiggling, Bruno wanted more wackiness (really?!) and more control, and Carrie Ann says Redfoo's hook was great, but not much else.
Noah Galloway and Sharna Burgess (cha cha)
The dance: Noah. What a charmer! His chemistry with Sharna is undeniable, and while the double amputee is clearly at a physical disadvantage, his movements are fluid and impressive - especially that leg lift!
What the judges say: Julianne compliments Noah and Sharna's connection, as well as Sharna's creativity in designing the dance around Noah's physical limitations. Bruno and Carrie Ann are similarly emotional and impressed. Len salutes Noah's effort.
Suzanne Somers and Tony Dovolani (cha cha)
The dance: Suzanne wastes no time in going the self-effacing route, with a dance that's modeled after a ThighMaster workout routine. Her physique's bangin', but her finesse at times leaves a little - OK, a lot - to be desired.
What the judges say: Bruno admires Suzanne's pluck but not so much her footwork. Carrie Ann agrees that Suzanne's legs are "ridonculous." Len talks about Suzanne like she's a classic car, and Julianne wants more raunch.
Rumer Willis and Val Chmerkovskiy (foxtrot)
The dance: Their foxtrot is smooth and sensual, and Rumer demonstrates a poise and confidence that's somewhat unexpected. (She's also looking more and more like her mom - who's in the audience - every year.) This is pretty exceptional for a Week 1 routine.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann says it's clear Rumer is "in it to win it," and Len loves the balance of quietness and intensity. Julianne got chills from the routine, and Bruno is blown away by Rumer's focus and power (and arms).
What did you think, Dancing fans? Who's your early pick to win Season 20 (or at least make it to the finals)? And which pair do you think will be sent home next week? Sound off in the comments!
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
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